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Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on February 23, 2011

by David Lewis for Reuters, February 23rd, 2011.

In the muggy forest of central Liberia, a gang of workers is inching its way along a railway track, cut long and straight through an otherwise impenetrable mesh of trees and vines. The drone of insects is interrupted by a high-pitched drill and the clang of hammers as workers put the finishing touches to the perfectly aligned steel tracks.

Casting a watchful eye over the crew of workers is Lewis C. Dogar, a veteran of Liberia’s railway. Dogar and a handful of colleagues have been brought out of retirement to help reclaim hundreds of kilometers of track from the jungle.

The softly spoken 64-year-old remembers Liberia’s booming 1960s and 1970s, when trains laden with iron ore wound south from the mine on the mist-shrouded Mount Nimba to the sweaty port town of Buchanan. That finished with the outbreak of fighting, and two back-to-back civil wars that lasted 14 years. The conflict, which finally ended in 2003, left more than 200,000 people dead and Liberia’s finances and infrastructure in ruins.

The gang of Liberian railway workers is a small sign things may finally be improving. Some of the men have only recently swapped their weapons for blue overalls and yellow hard hats. “We have a few young boys coming out of high school,” Dogar says. “I am happy that I am around to train people.” (continue reading… )


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